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November 2018 Magazine
1. Remembrance 1914-1918 by Kate Jones
2. "Goodbye!" by Grafton Maggs
3. Thankyou from Barbara Richards
1. REMEMBRANCE 1914-1918
This year Remembrance Sunday falls on the eleventh day of the month. At 11a.m. it will be exactly 100 years since the Armistice of 1918. 11 o'clock on the eleventh day of the eleventh month was the end of the Great War, 1914— 1918. Peace was declared; victorious nations celebrated. My own grandmother, married to a soldier and expecting their first child, skipped for joy along her suburban high street.
The Great War involved countries all over the world and millions of men fought and died. 'It will be Hell to be in it; and Hell to be out of if, wrote the poet Rupert Brooke when war was declared in August 1914. By the end of that year hundreds of thousands of British men had volunteered. In Mumbles, 250 had enlisted by Christmas. The following year, on 24 June 1915, the Mumbles Press published the names of over 400 'Mumbles men who have obeyed the call to arms.' In their patriotic enthusiasm some lads found ways to get around the age limits of 18 to 41. Thomas Davies [once of William Street] was only seventeen when he was killed in action in January 1915. He had been in France less than a month.
The Mumbles Roll of Honour runs from Ace to Young. The oldest was 61years old; the youngest was 17, others barely 18. They were sons, fathers, husbands, fiancés, uncles, cousins and brothers; their families the recipients of the dreaded telegrams. They fought in the trenches of the Western Front - at Ypres, on the Somme, in the stinking mud of Passchendaele, at Loos and Cambrai. They fought in Egypt, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Salonika and South Africa. They fought in the air and at sea, dying when their flimsy flying machines were shot down; killed when their vessels were mined or torpedoed.
A long way from home: The first Mumbles casualty was Joseph Hughes of Woodville Road, killed in action in the North Sea on 15 October 1914. Two men, Francis Richards of Newton and John Williams of Mumbles were lost [off the Fame Islands and the Dardenelles respectively] on 10 November 1918, just a few hours before hostilities ended. Three Mumbles men [Samuel Gammon, George Walters and John Thomas] fell on the same day, 10 July 1916, at the Battle of the Somme. Six men died at Passchendaele in November 1917. Brothers Alfred and Ernest Jenkins of Southend were killed within four months of each other in 1917. Thomas Michael, of Southend, survivor of two Mumbles lifeboat disasters, serving as a coast-watcher in north-east England, had six sons, four serving in the forces; two of whom [Ernest and Arthur] died on active service.
Some died of wounds or disease in casualty clearing stations, field hospitals or back home in Britain. Towards the end of the war several men succumbed to influenza ['Spanish Flu'] and others to injuries after the war was over. A few are buried in Oystermouth cemetery but most are laid to rest a long way from the home they called Mumbles.
'At the going down of the sun . . .'is the well-known line from Laurence Binyon's poem, 'For the Fallen', published in the Times newspaper in September 1914. It was written in honour of the British Expeditionary Force casualties at the Bathes of Mons and The Marne in the opening weeks of the war. By 1916 shrines to those serving were being erected in villages, towns and cities across Britain. These simple wooden triptychs, with a central crucifix and a shelf below for flowers, recorded the names of all who had gone from the locality to 'fight for King and Country'. As the fighting continued, mass bereavement and the fact that many of the men who died had no grave meant the shrines came to commemorate the fallen - a focus for grief and loss and also pride.
The Mumbles war shrine: During the war a black-painted, wooden shrine was erected in Parade Gardens [now Southend Gardens] in Mumbles. At its official unveiling on 14 September 1918, four hundred villagers gathered to watch the church choir process from All Saints' Church to the gardens. There was a firing party and the Last Post was sounded. Across the road, at the bottom of Hall Bank, photographs of men serving in the forces were displayed in the window of Nana Todd's greengrocery and sweet shop - their faces a poignant reminder of the village's sacrifice.
After the Armistice came the need for Remembrance. At 11a.m. on the first anniversary, 11 November 1919, the nation observed a minute's silence. A year later the tradition of wearing poppies began - inspired by John McCrae's 1915 poem 'In Flanders Fields'. On 1 August 1920 a magnificent rood screen carved from Welsh oak was unveiled in All Saints' Church. It was a memorial to ninety-eight men of the parish, inscribed alphabetically on the bottom panels with no distinction made between rank or denomination. Two months later, a brass plaque was erected in Mumbles Methodist church with the names of thirteen church members who had given their lives.
The villagers of Blackpill made their own memorial to twelve local men. At the unveiling in May 1922 Rev. Canon Williams, vicar of Oystermouth, described it as 'simple but grand'. A beautifully coloured Roll of Service, 1914-1918, was hung in Mumbles Baptist church. In Norton, a newly completed terrace of houses was re-named 'Mons Terrace' in memory of several of its wartime tenants who had fought at the Battle of Mons. Along with rolls of honour in schools and workplaces, these were permanent memorials to a war idealistically meant to be the 'war to end all wars'.
The last Mumbles memorial to the Great War was erected on the site of the wooden shrine in Southend Gardens. It was unveiled on 30 July 1939 by Mrs Ann Hixson of Newton, whose youngest son David had been killed in 1918. The monument was rededicated on 11 November 2006 - with the names of those killed in both wars inscribed on additional side plinths. In 2017 fifteen names were added to the All Saints' rood screen. The brass plaque in the Methodist church has been renewed and the monument at Clyne restored in 2018. The men of Mumbles are not forgotten.
One hundred years on: Although thousands of British men never returned, thousands more did. They came home to a country that had changed in their absence, sometimes to families who could not possibly comprehend their experiences. Often they suffered from life-changing injuries and psychological scars. Their names may not be on any war memorial, but we remember them with pride as well.
Kate Jones, November 2018
Acknowledgements: A History of Mumbles website, edited by John and Carol Powell; The Mumbles Press, 1914 & 1915; World War I records on Ancestry.co.uk. Photographs: Soldiers leaving Mumbles, 1914, M.A. Clare; The Mumbles Shrine in Parade Gardens, 14 September 1918, M.A. Clare; The Great War rood screen memorial in All Saints' Church, Tony Roberts; Mrs Ann Hixson unveiling the Great War memorial, July 1939, OHA archive; the restored memorial at Clyne Chapel in 2018, John Powell; Bill Barrington and the war memorial in 2006, John Powell.
2. Goodbye!" - by Grafton Maqqs
I've never been able to handle goodbyes with ease, more often than not finding that my emotions swell up, take control and render me into a choked up mute. I am sure that I'm not alone in this because sadly, for all of us, that's what life is all about; somewhere along the line there is always going to be a goodbye.
And, few goodbyes were more poignant than those which took place during the war years, of which little is ever mentioned. Just about every family in wartime Britain was affected by one or more of its members being called away to serve his country and perhaps it was because of this - the resulting goodbye being so commonplace - that it was given scant regard. This is understandable because, after all, there was the actual combat of war taking place, with daily events on the battlefield overshadowing all else.
Yet, commonplace though it was, the wartime 'call-up' was a family drama of some substance, each one unique and having the most profound effect upon those involved. It was a drama that started off with that brown envelope, bearing the OHMS letters, dropping through the letter box on to the doormat. It wasn't unexpected because a few weeks before, the recipient would have undergone the medical examination necessary for medical grading. For those living in Mumbles it had meant a trip to the YMCA Swansea for an assessment performed by a team of civilian doctors [amongst them being Mumbles medics Drs. Kyle and Fred Jones]. Exemption to call up for military service was granted in various categories but for the great majority there was no dispensation and many older, married personnel with families were called to the colours.
The brown envelope also contained a third class travel warrant with details as to the specific train to be caught; all connections and timings being listed. This meant that the conscript was expected to arrive at his destination punctually - on the dot - and, printed in heavy font, was the punitive action that would be taken if the conscript failed to comply. This was not a hollow threat and though falling short of 'being shot at dawn', there were severe penalties to be paid by the unwilling conscript, if he disobeyed. Failure to respond was followed by a visit to the home address within 48 hours, by the RCMP [Royal Corps of Military Police] - the 'Redcaps'— who, with a perverted delight, would come to hammer on the door armed with all necessary documentation to authorise arrest. These people revelled in their temporary wartime authority and any sympathy that once might have existed in their beefy frames, had long since been buffed and blancoed out.
And there was absolutely nothing that anyone could do about it!
The reaction to a call up for service must surely have been similar in every home in the country, even though expected - one of shock and dismay. The family was losing a son, daughter or father - snatched away, with every chance of being directly involved in the waging of war. Suddenly, an enormous void was about to be created, coupled with which would be the constant nagging worry for his, or her, welfare. It was a heartrending situation with the hardest hit being the family saying good bye to a father. Overnight the mother was left to run the family on her own; bad enough in peace time but infinitely worse in time of war.
In the case of the younger conscript, it was all so different; there was, of course, the heartache of parents which would persist indefinitely; but for the lad himself, after the initial grief of parting, there was a feeling of pride and an expectancy of adventure; the gung-ho spirit of the time surging through his veins.
There was, of course, apprehension which was understandable, after all the average eighteen year old in those days was sorely lacking in worldly experience. Here in Mumbles, for example, most of the youth, had spent their entire lives in a domain encompassed by Port Eynon, Porthcawl and Penclawdd - leading a simple, happy, parochial life. Now, suddenly, they were being thrust into a strange new world of far reaching horizons. A terrifying prospect! But, for all that apprehension, there was pride and an eagerness to serve.
In my own case, that brown envelope arrived in 1944. Barely a week's notice was granted and, as expected, my mother folded up, trembling with grief. My father said little, but I knew that he too was pretty upset - after all he was a WWI veteran. I smile now, as I look back to the night prior to my departure when my father gave me some well intended advice. At times he could be remarkably shy and this was one of them. Hesitantly he asked me if I knew all about babies and things! Then, red faced, he stammered through the things that birds and bees got up to and apologised for that time when he had misled me about those two dogs on Langland beach of whom he had said were playing leapfrog. Eventually he reached the crux of the matter - certain dangers, if I should stray!
All this had come a bit late but was none the less well meant and I can see now in this act, how very much he cared for me. Mind you, there was a bonus because I did from that moment on acquire a new respect for birds and bees whom I had thought until then, spent all their time just chirping and buzzing [respectively]. Regarding dogs, I kept an open mind.
Early on the following morning, it was time for me to leave. My mother behaved as expected, hugged me like a bear and wept. Dad held it all together with his stoicism. He gave me a firm handshake, a special look and a loving birds and bees wink.
It was time to go; I prised my mother off,
I slipped away. Stroked our lovely old black cat sitting sedately on the window sill and set off to catch the Mumbles Train en route to High Street Station; my destination being a place I had never heard of before - Ranby Camp, Retford, Notts! The journey was a scheduled ten hour trip with three changes. This I did manage to complete on war packed trains and, looking back now, I wonder how on earth I accomplished it because prior to all this, I had never been out of Swansea on my own before! If I attempted it now, I should finish up in Vladivostock.
As the train pulled away from High Street, through the lunar landscape of Llansamlet, I felt a wave of sadness overwhelm me- first time ever away from Mum, Dad and brother, Cohn! I
whispered a last farewell to Swansea I was on my way to becoming an infantry soldier.I did arrive at Retford Station on time and I wasn't alone; there were about a hundred other lanky, pallid, multifarious youths milling about on the forecourt. Trucks were waiting and we were ordered aboard by a beribboned corporal possessed of a permanent scowl, a voice like a chainsaw, a complexion like a road map and an extensive vocabulary of immeasurable profanity.
After a ten minute journey the small convoy pulled off the road into Ranby Camp. Sentries stood on guard, one each side of the gate and, as the truck passed through, I was conscious of it being a symbolic moment - crossing a line - I was leaving civilian life and becoming a soldier in the British Army. From now on, for as long as the War Office chose, I was completely under their control for 24 hours of the day.
So began the first six weeks of army life; a period of sudden traumatic change with a transition of unimaginable dimension from the life I had once lead. There was never to be anything else like it in my entire existence - that first six weeks in the British Army. And it started almost immediately after arrival.
The intake was divided into platoons of forty which were then allocated to barrack huts. Here we met the three platoon NCOs whose task it was to transform us, during the ensuing six weeks, from raw civilians into basically trained soldiers. They were cast in the same mould as had been the NCO at Retford Station, unapproachable, surly and seemingly endowed with unlimited authority. Within minutes we were made to understand clearly that we were nothing and that they were now totally in charge of our lives.
A roll call was taken and the two-tiered beds allocated. Then the first shock! The platoon was taken to a hut where two pieces of hessian sacking were handed out to each man with instructions to stuff them with straw, a mound of which lie on the floor. These were now our mattresses and pillows and along with two rough grey blankets made up the bedding. No sheets! Back to the hut and beds were made up.
Then came a rude lesson, the stark realisation of what army life was like! To be a common or garden soldier meant the total loss of all privacy and dignity. That night, I undressed with 40 others about me doing the same thing and clambered up to get between the rough blankets to rest my head on the rustling straw stuffed pillow. I had to share this room with forty other men about me.
It was bad enough sharing a bedroom with brother, Cohn - but now with forty others!! There was subdued conversation until, following a distant bugle call, the lights suddenly went out; switched off at some central point in the camp. Gradually, a silence settled upon the barrack room which was never to become total; whisperings stopped but all though the night there were coughs, moans, snores, mutterings - and worse. Though tired out, it took ages to fall asleep between those coarse blankets, resting on such lumpy itchy bedding and with the slightest move of the man below man below me producing creaks in the wooden framework of the bunk. Such a long, long way from the smooth white sheets and the feather bed of home!
The following day started at 0600hrs with reveille being blown by a camp bugler and relayed to all huts through speakers. Lights came on followed by the door being thrown open with a crash and the entry of a L/Corporal who bellowed out, "Any of you b*#!$!*s for sick parade?"
The day proper started a few minutes later with the door again being flung open with a resounding clash. The platoon corporal entered to shout his head off at everyone to get moving and get to the ablutions. Here, crammed together, we washed and shaved in turns at rows of metal basins, in tepid water. Eventually we were marched, after a fashion, to the mess hall for breakfast - porridge, dried egg, toast and margarine - it could have been worse but not a lot.
During the course of the day, uniforms and items of equipment were issued at the QM stores, followed by a visit to the armourer for the issue of rifles and bayonets. This was a moment of truth - we were not in the Boy Scouts!
And so it all began, the six weeks in which the new recruits were broken in. Uniforms were fitted correctly, webbing equipment was assembled and then came the introduction to rifle drill and marching on the barrack square. When off duty, recruits blancoed equipment and polished brasses and boots.
There were several visits to the rifle ranges where the first noise of war was heard, bringing with it the realisation as to what this was really all about - what they were training us to do.
Surprisingly quickly, the new recruits began to lose their rawness and adapt to army life. To me, a big plus was to find myself with two or three close friends and thirty odd others who were good comrades. Already, my spirits were rising and thoughts of home becoming less frequent.
I was beginning to accept living in a world devoid of all privacy. I got used to dressing and undressing, showering, eating and drinking, even using doorless latrines, with people about me. Similarly, I got used to being shouted at, snarled at and constantly disciplined. I found the three substantial meals a day becoming more palatable as the course progressed and the comfort of my bed at the end of a hard day seemingly surpassing that of the bed I had left in Mumbles.
The effect of the shared abuse, discipline and hardship was soon evident. Forty independent individuals began to coalesce into a cohesive unit. They were becoming a platoon and the six weeks flew. By the end of it, the platoon could march and drill crisply on the barrack square, reacting instantly to a word of command. They looked like smart soldiers should look - uniforms were well fitting and ironed with razor like creases. Dull grey black army boots had been transformed through repeated polishing, and 'boning', into footware with a finish like black patent leather. Similarly the dull brasses on all equipment now shone like burnished gold and a new vocabulary of official army language, with its characteristic colourful slang, had crept into everyday speech. The principles of basic fieldcraft and been learned and the kick of a Lee Enfield rifle into the shoulder was familiar and not feared.
The regular meals, the strenuous physical programme, the daily showers, the fresh air, the rigid hours for sleep and leisure time had together brought about a dramatic change in appearance. The young soldier had filled out, he was clear eyed, there was colour in his cheeks and the new deportment was a manifestation of his inner pride. And a great big plus was, that no matter what part of the UK these boys had come from, strong friendships had been forged across all geographic boundaries.
The six week course terminated with a passing-out parade, within 24 hours of which the platoon was split up, its individual members being posted to different regiments all over the country, for the next stages of training.
There was the last night for a drink in the NAAFI with friends and the final maudlin sing song back in the barrack room where the NCOs showed a different side of their characters by joining in and, for a change, paying glowing tributes to their young squad who had undergone a complete metamorphosis in their hands
3. Thank You
I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has bought my cards and calendars. Another huge thank you to Alan Giles for all the hours he has spent printing and assembling the calendars.
My original goal was to give the church £100 at Christmas as a thank you for welcoming me into this community. I was christened in All Saints', Skewen, and attended for many years until it was sadly demolished. I'm delighted to be back in All Saints again.
I spent six weeks with my Mother in Singleton hospital before she died. We enjoyed the view from the ninth floor over the bay and Mumbles head. We reminisced about the holidays spent in the Mumbles - the Mumbles train, Fortes and a caravan in Plunch Lane with gas lights and the tap in the far end of the field [that's a young me in the photograph].
My Mother made me promise to start a new life for myself. I can only say God brought me here. The photos on the cards are all taken from my home in West Cross.
I'm particularly delighted to be raising money to clean the Rood screen as the WW1 memorial. My grandfather was in the first battalion formed of the Welsh Guards. He was badly injured at Ypres and he begged the surgeon not to amputate both his arms and legs as they had
planned to do.
He was awarded the Military Medal but always said it was not for him but for those who didn't come home. They paid the ultimate sacrifice.
He came home to Swansea and met and married my grandmother who was in service here in the Mumbles.
I was lucky enough to live with my grandfather. He was my hero. I remember my Mother pinning a poppy to his coat before he and my grandmother set off to the Brangwyn Hall for the Remembrance Day service. Sadly he died of a heart attack on the bus before it reached Swansea. He was just sixty three.
November 11th has an extra poignancy for me. I'm sure he would be proud of me raising all this money but it would not have happened without your support.
October 2018 Magazine
1. We did it! The All Saints Restoration Project
2. Undertaker Paul Murray Retires
3. Farewell to shopkeeper - Ian Boyd!
4. 'I Shall Never Forget the Time When'
5. Morfydd Owen Centenary
We Did It!
The All Saints' Restoration Project
By the end of this month the ambitious campaign and project to restore our ancient and modern Parish Church should be completed.
The last two outstanding tasks will be to paint the south aisle and clean the magnificent rood screen. This should be completed in time for the Service of Thanksgiving for the Restoration at our Patronal Festival Eucharist at 10.30am on Sunday 28th October.
This special article celebrates our remarkable achievement, from its shaky start to successful conclusion!
The Early Years
In 2004 the Church building was surveyed by local architect, Dewi Evans, as part of a programme of five yearly inspections of Churches across the diocese.
The report highlighted what many of us had feared, that the building was in urgent need of major repair. The nave, chancel and tower roofs were leaking badly. Many of the slates had slipped and the nails holding them in place had virtually perished. There was significant structural movement in the north wall around the Lifeboat window. The porch was in a very dilapidated state, with chunks of the Bath coping stones falling onto the ground below. The electrical and lighting systems were at the point of being condemned. There was water ingress around the Lady Chapel arch and in the valley between the nave and south aisle and the central heating system was on its last legs!.
Things were so bad that we came perilously close to having to shut the building on health and safety grounds. Urgent remedial work during 2005 bought us some extra time. We patched up the roof as best we could. Loose coping stones were removed from the porch and we did some upgrading to the electrical system. Though this made the building safe for a while it was very clear that the Church needed a major restoration.
In response to this very real challenge the Parochial Church Council [FCC] appointed Dewi Evans as the architect for a possible major restoration project.
Dewi Evans is a much respected and award winning local heritage architect. He was asked, in particular, to design a light and welcoming new porch [including much needed toilet and kitchen facilities] and to draw up a schedule of work for the complete restoration of the building.
The architect presented his plans for the new porch to the Parochial Church Council in 2006. As well as detailed drawings his company provided a computer generated image [below] of what the porch would look like. It included a pyramidal roof, clerestory windows and incorporated the original and medieval features of the original Church entrance.
The PCC unanimously accepted the design and the proposed schedule of restoration work, and the decision was made to apply for a faculty from the Diocesan Advisory Committee [DAC] for approval of the project.
Because we proposed to rebuild the porch the DAC asked us to make a separate planning application to Swansea City Council.
It was during this planning process that we encountered a major setback. A few heritage groups objected to our proposal to demolish the dilapidated Victorian stair turret. The application was rejected by the city and, with the backing of our architect, we went to appeal. This process took three years to be resolved and was eventually unsuccessful and costly to us.
It was only in 2012 that a new design, retaining the old stairwell, was accepted by the PCC and faculty permission was eventually obtained. The estimated cost of the restoration work was £750,000
It was very obvious to us, from the beginning, that raising in excess of three quarters of a million pounds to restore All Saints' would be a huge undertaking for the Church community.
However, the FCC had set aside £150,000 from reserves for the project. Another boost came through a successful 'Landfill' grant application, which brought in just over £75,000. We also were able to cash in an old 'Chancel Repair Fund', which brought the total at our disposal to £235,000. This gave us a third of what we actually needed and would help to kick-start the appeal.
The FCC also realised that raising such a sum of money would need professional help. That help came in the appointment of two campaign managers, Dean Michael Bunker and Nigel Morgan [photos top right].
Michael had raised in excess of 11 million pounds for the restoration of Peterborough Cathedral, during his time as Dean there. Nigel's background was in finance. After initial meetings with the Vicar they came to make a campaign plan presentation to the FCC in the early summer of 2012.
They suggested that the money would be raised during a 'Campaign phase' and by a number of different teams working together. We would appeal to Church members for help. We would also ask people in the wider community for support. Nigel would oversee applications to grant making bodies and trusts. Their presentation was enthusiastically received by the FCC and it was decided that an official 'Appeal Launch' would be held towards the end of 2012. The campaign would be divided into three phases; planning, asking and delivery. Lord Oystermouth agreed to be Patron of the Appeal; a Campaign Executive was formed, chaired by Tyrone O'Sullivan [both are pictured below]. The fundraising teams were led by Alan Evans [Church members], Les Harris [Church leaders], John Isaac [community], Nigel Morgan would oversee trusts and grant applications, Roger Beynon would be project manager and Murray Donald was appointed treasurer. Some of the leaders recruited their own team of helpers.
Dean Michael's campaign plan divided the asking phase into five areas, each given a target to achieve. He also suggested raising money from individual donations through a three year pledge. Each team was tasked with raising the following amounts.
Restoration Campaign Flan
With the planning phase completed it was decided to officially launch our major appeal. A large number of parishioners, friends and invited guests attended a launch reception and presentation on Thursday 29th November 2012 at All Saints'. The ambitious plan to restore our ancient and modern Church had at last begun!
In the early part of 2013 money began to flow into Nigel Morgan's Appeal Office in the Upper Churchrooms. Over two thirds of our regular worshippers signed up for the pledge scheme, eventually raising not just £60,000 but over £170,000. The clergy and FCC also contributed over £5,000 more than their £40,000 target.
All the individual donations were treated with the utmost confidence. Only Nigel Morgan [Campaign Manager] knew what each person had given or pledged. The anonymous gifts ranged from £10 from a university student to a cheque for £10,000 brought into the Appeal Office by a generous Church member.
The community team went out to local businesses and their hard work brought in just over half of the £70,000 they were asked to find. The biggest disappointment was that the rich and famous of Mumbles didn't contribute a penny!
Much was expected of our Campaign Managers, who were busily applying for grants to make up the shortfall. This was painstaking work, involving the completion of complicated application forms and thousands of emails and phone calls. While Nigel Morgan did this in the office Dean Michael met with several trustees of major grant making bodies to sell our appeal to them.
Their hard work eventually paid off. We were successful in obtaining major grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund [125,000], Cadw [47,250] and the Garfield Weston Foundation [25,000].
Mumbles Community Council gave grant Of £8,000 for the new upholstered Chairs and a further £3,000 for the Church clock. Other grants came in from the Church in Wales, Gower Society, All churches Trust, Welsh Church Act Trust, Kenneth Hufton Charity, Rank Foundation, Freemasons, Gower Society, Diocese of Swansea & Brecon, Peter Stormonth Darling Trust and the James Pantyfedwen Foundation.
There were weekly meeting between the Vicar and Nigel, monthly meetings of the Campaign Executive and regular meetings of the various teams. There was a lot of coming and going within the office and Church.
Though we had initially hoped to raise a million pounds, which would have given us a pot of over £200,000 for future maintenance, we realised that raising such a vast amount of money during a global economic downturn would be almost impossible. Many of the grant making bodies would only help to fund the work that we really needed to do. But we did raise over £800,000 which enabled us to do what we set out to do.
Church members and grant making bodies had made a very generous response to our appeal for help - which we are so grateful for.
The Delivery Phase - The Restoration Work
The first phase of the actual restoration project was to stabilise the north wall around the Mumbles Lifeboat memorial window. The outer and inner skins of the wall had been moving apart and structural engineers began the painstaking task of drilling into the wall and securing it with dozens of pins. Scaffolding went up [which helped to give an impetus to our fundraising campaign] and the building was out of bounds, except for the daily services [when the contractors went off for their morning coffee break]. The phase was completed within four weeks at a cost of just over £50,000. A new system of wall pinning meant that the stabilisers were not visible at all. The restoration of the Church had begun.
The second phase was by far the major part of the project and involved the re-roofing of the nave and tower, repairs to some of the masonry and the renewal of all the rainwater goods. [the above photograph shows contractor Jason Irvine and Project Manager, Roger Beynon, inspecting the work]. The re-roofing was initially planned to begin in October 2014 but was delayed until April 2015. This was because we had not received a response from our grant application to Cadw. They had indicated that they would only fund a project that had not yet started. So the contractors moved in after Easter, in April 2015. The Church was clad with scaffolding and closed, except for Sunday services and for baptisms, weddings and funerals. Our faithful midweek worshippers decamped to the 'Upper Room', which had been turned into a temporary Chapel.
The work was eventually completed by October 2015 costing in excess of E300,000. The Church was
watertight for the first time in many years!
Work on Phase Three began immediately after we had finished the roof in October 2015. The contractors began the painstaking task of demolishing the old Victorian porch and storing a number of its original features - the door surround, medieval stone heads and the nineteenth century stained glass window. The work also required an archaeological watching brief.
All this was done at one of the busiest times of the Church's year. The temporary main entrance into the building was the north door [by the pulpit] and worshippersand visitors had to negotiate their way around the cordoned off building site. We had to cope with the Remembrance Sunday Service and the hugely popular Advent, Christmas and Schools services, ushering up to five hundred worshippers at a time through the much narrower side door.
Atrocious weather at the beginning of 2016 delayed the work, so did the unearthing of human remains [including some intact skeletons], thought to date from the fifteenth century to the early Victorian era. Though we had budgeted for an archaeological watch the find proved very costly to the project.
The porch was eventually completed by September 2016, just in time for the Music Festival, and at a cost of over a quarter of a million pounds. It now houses toilet and kitchen facilities and is a much more light and welcoming entrance to the Church.
The next phase of the restoration saw the installation of a new state of the art lighting system. The work began in late September 2016 and took eight weeks to complete. It was carried out by Church and Cathedral lighting specialists, Smith's of Gloucester at a cost of £80,000. The system gave us twenty different scene settings for services and concerts and can be controlled by an 'i-pad'.
It was at this time that we had two further setbacks. The central heating boiler died on us and we had to find a further £18,000 to replace it. The village clock in the tower also decided to stop permanently and would cost over £10,000 to repair. Thanks to a very generous response to a special gift day and a grant towards the clock from Mumbles Community Council we were able to install a much more energy efficient boiler and the old clock was sent off to Smith's of Derby to be restored. It is now back telling the time, as it has done for over a hundred and forty years.
With just enough money left we have been able to replace the leaking coping stones above the Lady Chapel arch and renew some of the clerestory windows on the north side of the nave. Contractors are painting the south aisle this month and the magnificent rood screen should be professional cleaned and restored in time for Remembrance Sunday.
So, with the appeal wound up and with a job well done, we can reflect on what has been quite a journey for us. We have completed a once in a generation major restoration of our iconic Church building. It is now watertight, flexible for an even greater variety of community use and remains a wonderful place to gather for Christian worship.
From everyone involved in the appeal; the PCC, Appeal executive, campaign managers, architect, project manager and so many others, we say a huge thank you to all who have shared our vision to restore All Saints' and helped to make it all possible. Diolch o galon - heartfelt thanks!
Undertaker Paul Murray Retires
Paul Murray hung up his morning suit and top hat at the end of last month as he retired after over thirty years of service to the community as undertaker at the village's only Funeral Directors, Pressdee's of Mumbles. Paul is known to countless local families and has been a good friend to us at All Saints' through the years. He has been a familiar figure, walking through the village in front of the funeral cortege and ministering to people in their time of grief. He has brought professionalism, compassion, dignity and care to thousands of bereaved families for well over three decades.
Paul has been one of the busiest and most respected undertakers in the Swansea area. His many years of experience have helped grieving relatives to arrange dignified and appropriate funerals for their loved ones. He has the reputation for going more than the extra mile, above and beyond his job description and has been truly selfless in his care of the bereaved. Many people in the Mumbles area are so very grateful for his help at their time of need.
As a committed churchgoer himself, Paul has been especially helpful to us at All Saints'. He recently oversaw the re-burial of the medieval remains unearthed during the excavation and construction of the new porch. He did this at no cost to the Church, even getting his sons, James and Edward, to dig the grave free of charge! As a long serving member of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales he has campaigned for the Church to have a more open and pragmatic response to funerals and the bereaved.
He hopes, in his retirement, to devote more time to his role at Ty Olwen Hospice, work which he shares with his wife, Helen. He plans to be more involved at St Mary's, Swansea, where he and the family are regular worshippers. He is also looking forward to visits to Mumbles and to joining us occasionally for the Wednesday morning Holy Eucharist at All Saints.
I, in particular, will miss Paul. It has been a privilege to work with him through the years and to come to know him as a good and trusted friend. I too, like so many others, have cause to be grateful for his support at times of personal bereavement.
I also look forward to working with his son, James, who will take over the helm at Pressdee's. He is already well established in the role as 'a chip off the old block!'.
Every blessing to you Paul, may you have a long, fruitful and happy retirement.
3. Farewell to shopkeeper - Ian Boyd!
Ian Boyd has decided to call it a day! After a long, long time in the retail newspaper I tobacconist I confectionery I grocery business, Ian has felt that it is time to hand over the reins and take a well earned retirement, whilst young enough to enjoy his senior years.
Ian's business was the classical village corner shop but defied all contemporary trends in that not only did it survive the opposition of the cut price giants, it thrived! The success of his business was, without any doubt, largely due to the type of man that Ian is. In all the years that I patronised his shop, on a daily basis, I never saw him in an ugly mood. Most customers, like myself, would always loiter for a chat, the latest gossip, a joke and invariably a laugh. Ever ready to do a favour - cash a cheque, help a charity, display free any village notices in his window [and leave them there for a decade or two], he was kindness itself.
How often the shop would be left unmanned, as he "nipped over to Hanover flats because old Mrs. Jones was out of sugar". How often have I looked down from my bedroom window at 7am on a freezing, wet winter's morning to see Ian darting out of his car to deliver a few newspapers in Trinity Close - the newspaper lad having failed to materialise that morning.
Then there was the time, long ago, when my late wife was very ill and I couldn't leave the house. Miraculously all that I needed in groceries, and the like, would be waiting on the doorstep every morning. Ian Boyd's doing.
He was the dedicated professional, his casual attitude betrayed by his consummate professionalism. Years of experience in the retail trade had made him what he was - a fine businessman but one who had a heart of gold with concern for the welfare of those who dealt with him [a rare, rare combination in this day and age!].
In a 'corner shop' which buzzed with activity, he never seemed to run out of the necessities and he never seemed to have a backlog of goods. He always remembered to keep that 'wholemeal loaf' or that 'Telegraph' for his regular customers.
I could go, on and on, as could those many hundreds of customers who have dealt with Ian over the decades. It was a joy to go into his shop every day for the sheer pleasure of having his company for a few minutes.
Thank you so very much Ian Boyd, for all that you have done for us over the years. I know that I speak not only for those of us in Norton but also for the many hundreds of others who came from afar to your 'Corner' shop. You enriched all our lives You will be sorely missed..
So, 'Goodbye! Ian Boyd - Shopkeeper'
But, 'Welcome! Ian Boyd - Private Resident in Norton!'
From all of us, in our hundreds, may you have a long and happy retirement in our midst, here in Norton!
3. 'I Shall Never Forget the Time When'.
The Clinic at Victoria Hall
by Mary Hague [formerly of Mumbles]
I still can't look at the Victoria Hall in Dunns without a frisson of fear, for that was where the schools dental clinic was located when I was a child in the 1940's, and where I had my teeth out. I remember the smelt of the red rubber mask as it was put on your
face... .then afterwards when you went home with a scarf round
your face to preyent 'blast' [whatever that was]. These memories have stayed with me for all these years, but at least I still have my teeth!
When my son, aged 2, came to Blackpill with us, to see my mother, his favourite treat was to go on the bus to Mumbles. He wore his best top, a striped T-shirt from Kemp's, and therefore called his Mumbles jumper when we went. Sadly, no Mumbles Train of course, but the bus was acceptable, and we got off at the square in Oystermouth. As we did so, he would bend down and pat the ground [I drew the line at the Papal Kiss] saying,
'Darling Mumbles!'... before we'd trot off to Lewis News [another favourite destination].
50 years later, he still loves Mumbles and visits every year - without the ritual! Favourite
destinations are now: The Park Inn, the Mumbles Ale House and the Pilot............
The preferences may change, but the love of Mumbles remains constant for us all.
Mary Hague [Hornchurch, Essex, 20181
5. MORFYDD OWEN CENTENARY
The sun was shining on Friday 7 September 2018, but there was a hint of autumn in the wind that rustled the fallen leaves on Plunch Lane, Thistleboon. Passing cars slowed down and their occupants stared at the group of people who had gathered on the roadside to witness a very moving ceremony. At 11am a Gower Society plaque was unveiled on the stone wall outside Craig-y-mOr, commemorating the young musician Morfydd Owen who died in the house 100 years before, on 7 September 1918. Morfydd was only twenty-six years old; a gifted soprano and pianist and a composer of some 250 scores. Her obituary in Y Gorlan [journal of the Welsh Presbyterian chapel] commented: 'Oh, Death! We knew that thou wert blind, but in striking Morfydd thou hast taught us that thou art also deaf'.
Morfydd Owen was born in Treforest, Glamorgan on 1 October 1891 the youngest of four children. Her parents, William and Sarah Owen, were amateur musicians and their daughter's musical abilities were obvious from an early age. She began playing the piano at the age of four and by six was composing her own music. Throughout her childhood and adolescence she performed in chapels and at eisteddfodau and at eighteen won a scholarship to study at University College, Cardiff. Many of her compositions were performed whilst she was there and when she graduated in 1912 she moved to London to study further at the Royal College of Music. That summer she was admitted to the Gorsedd of Bards at the Wrexham Eisteddfod.
In her first year at the Royal College Morfydd won every available prize as well as first prize for singing at the Swansea Eisteddfod. The premiere of her music at London's Queen's Hall in 1913 was followed by other public performances. A great musical future was anticipated.
In London Morfydd's social life centred around two separate and very different groups. At the Welsh Presbyterian chapel in Charing Cross Road - a gathering point for many Welsh people living in London - she formed a close friendship with Lady Ruth Lewis, wife of the Liberal MP for Flintshire. Her career was helped by many concert invitations and commissions. Morfydd's other influential social circle was the London literary intelligentsia which included Ezra Pound, D.H. Lawrence and many Russian emigres. Through friendships with the latter and her work with Lady Lewis for the Welsh Folk-Song Society of London Morfydd developed a great interest in Russian folk song. Sadly, her chance to study the folk music of Russia, Norway and Finland in St Petersburg [for which she received a grant from the University of Wales in 1915] was denied her by the First World War.
Morfydd continued to compose and perform, with concerts in Bath and Oxford, and made her professional debut at London's Aeolian Hall in January 1917. Then, a month later, Morfydd unexpectedly married. Her husband was the Freudian psychoanalyst Ernest Jones (born in Gowerton) - an atheist with a flamboyant lifestyle and thirteen years her senior. The wedding at Marylebone Register Office after only a six week courtship was so sudden that none of her family and friends attended.
Marriage curtailed Morfydd's music; in 1917 she published just two songs. Ernest did not wish his wife to perform in public; expecting her to support his busy professional career at the expense of her own. So that year she only performed at the Eisteddfod and one concert. In addition there were religious tensions arising from her Christian faith and Ernest's atheism. In September, six months after their civil marriage, the couple married again - at the Charing Cross chapel in the presence of her parents.
By 1918 Morfydd's twin brothers were serving in France and on 6 April her mother, Sarah, died suddenly. In August Ernest took Morfydd on holiday to Gower (a place she had not visited) where his father was living at Craig-y-môr, in Plunch Lane, Thistleboon. The couple visited Caswell and Langland and lunched at the Kardomah in Swansea. On 30 August the family (Ernest's sister and her husband lived in Mumbles) gathered at Craig-y-mOr and listened to Morfydd singing. The next day Morfydd was taken ill with pain and a high fever. She had acute appendicitis and needed an immediate operation. Instead of taking her to Swansea Infirmary, Ernest arranged for her to be operated on at the house by a local surgeon with himself acting as anaesthetist. Morfydd went into a coma and a few days later, on 7 September, she died - of delayed chloroform poisoning.
In his autobiography, Ernest Jones said that neither he nor the local doctor had known of a recent discovery that chloroform poisoning was a likelihood with a young patient, with a suppurating wound, and deprived of sugar (due to wartime rationing). Had the anaesthetic been ether the tragedy might not have happened. There was no postmortem. Morfydd was buried four days later in Oystermouth Cemetery - before a death certificate was issued. You can find her grave [a red sandstone column] by following the main cemetery path right to the top and turning left.
Morfydd Owen's death at such a young age was a tragic loss to her family and friends. It also deprived the world of one the most supremely talented and gifted musicians Wales had yet produced. The centenary of her death has been marked by several events including performances of her work at the Gower Festival and the BBC Proms, a lecture by Dr Rhian Davies at Swansea University and the unveiling of two plaques- one at her Treforest birthplace and the other at Craig-y-mOr in Plunch Lane, Thistleboon.
Kate Jones, September 2018
/ thank Gary Gregor of the Gower Society for helping me with this article. Photograph of Blue Plaque, Kate Jones; engraving of the Welsh Presbyterian Church in London, dated 1888; Morfydd Owen in 1915, private collection.